Erik ten Hag ended Manchester United’s six-year trophy drought by beating Newcastle in the League Cup last week and danced with Lisandro Martinez and Antony, showing how happy and settled he is at his relatively new home.
But if he had taken Louis van Gaal’s advice in the summer, things might have gone very differently at Old Trafford.
According to Hans Kraay, Ten Hag’s former teammate at De Graafschap, Van Gaal, who lifted the FA Cup trophy in 2016 at Wembley, warned his fellow countryman against taking charge at his former club.
“Erik went to United because he saw the potential and the challenge. You know what Van Gaal said to Ten Hag, don’t you? ‘Erik, it is one big mess at United, don’t go there’,” said Kraay (via The Mirror).
Fortunately for United fans, Ten Hag ignored the advice, and despite all the issues that saw the Red Devils finish sixth last season the former Ajax man accepted the challenge.
10 months on, United are a different team altogether. No side in Europe’s top five leagues have won more games in all competitions than United.
Ten Hag has steadied a sinking ship with his pragmatic approach, game-winning substitutions, and strong team management that led to Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
Now, the Liverpool game at Anfield is his chance to show just how far his men have come.